Is Plant Protein Good For Building Muscle

Soy Vs Whey Vs Casein

How Well Can Plant Protein Build Muscle?

When compared to whey and casein protein supplements, soy protein powder sits somewhere in the middle in terms of muscle protein synthesis. This is the speed at which protein is used by the muscles, and a higher protein synthesis is beneficial for building muscle. In a study from a 2009 edition of the “Journal of Applied Physiology,” soy protein supplementation was inferior to whey hydrolysate in terms of synthesizing protein for muscle, but it performed better than casein protein.

Plant Protein Vs Whey: Digestion And Health

65 percent of us suffer some degree of lactose intolerance. Because whey derives from milk, it can be hard to digest. If youve ever had GI distress after consuming whey, you might be in this camp. Some studies also show the consumption of milk or milk products increases risk of cancer and heart disease and thats before we include the implications of consuming dairy from an industry which widely uses antibiotics on livestock.

The additives in protein powders can also damage health. Whether whey- or plant-based, be sure that whatever protein you choose doesnt contain maltodextrin, acesulfame k, sucralose, or aspartame. Despite being legally approved food additives, all are associated with serious short and long-term health issues. You can learn more about them here.

Plant sources, on the other hand, contain fiber and enzymes which actively aid digestion. Most plants are tolerated well by most people, and if you choose a whole plant instead of a powder, youll also avoid harmful additives.

The Iron Man Champion

One of the athletes I studied that stands out the most to me was Brendan Brazier, a Canadian Iron Man champion who is basically a raw vegan AND happens to be one of the fittest men on the planet. Yep, just take a look at this guy for yourself if you dont believe me. Hes super strong and toned, and he built THAT body on just plants.

Reading this incredible guys autobiography blew my mind, as the facts about what the plant based diet can really do for you were coming straight from this champions mouth, and who the can argue with that? Definitely not people who think you can only get enough protein by eating meat thats for sure! The proof was in the pudding with this one, and it was this information, along with my own feeling that I needed to take things a step further for my health, that was the catalyst for me to start my own plant based journey.

Im not going to pull any punches, it was hard at first and I fell off the wagon 3 times before something just clicked into place, but after that I just knew it was forever and I havent looked back since. I didnt go completely raw like Brendan as I am just not ready for that extreme way of eating yet, however, I did make the vow to go fully plant based to see how my body reacted.

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How To Build Muscle On A Plant

One of the most frequently asked questions when a bodybuilder is considering going vegan, or at least cutting meat and dairy, is

Can you really build muscle on a plant-based diet? Yes, its possible but its not easy, and there are some caveats. And thats what Im going to address in this post.

There are a number of athletes and weightlifters who subscribe to a plant-based meal plan. But is it right for you?

You probably have some questions like

  • What about protein?
  • Wont I be eating too many carbs?
  • Wont I lose strength and mass?
  • Will I be vitamin deficient?

Im going to help answer these questions and more in my complete guide to plant-based muscle building. Im also going to give you the potential drawbacks of going plant-based so that you can decide if its right for you.

Heres what youll get in this post:

IMPORTANT: This article is not saying that you should or should not go on a plant-based diet. Its simply a resource showing you how you can indeed build lean muscle on a plant-based meal plan. And youll also get a complete workout and supplement plan in this post!

Benefits Of The Best Plant Based Protein Powder For Building Muscle

New Research on Plant

While you might think that you cant possibly argue the benefits of plant based protein over animal based protein, you do have to consider your crowd. If you are a meat eater, we arent here to convince you to quit your carnivorous ways and convert to the vegan lifestyle far from it. When it comes to talking about the best plant based protein powder for building muscle, we are talking to the vegetarians or vegans in the room.

Many vegans and vegetarians are on an ethical journey, and sometimes you become more focused on what you dont eat than what you do. In your pursuit to avoid animal products, however, you may be missing out on the proteins and amino acids your body really needs to remain fit and healthy. If you arent consuming enough well-rounded protein, then you will begin to lose muscle mass no matter how much you exercise. Your body cannot build that muscle you are craving to achieve without protein. Relying on the best plant based protein powder for building muscle may be exactly what you are missing.

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Can You Build Muscle With Vegan Protein Powder

You can totally build muscle with vegan protein powder. A 2020 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine found that rice and whey protein yielded similar outcomes for body composition and performance. And pea protein has also been found to be quite effective versus a placebo .

Just like whey, vegan protein contains BCAAs , a category of protein building blocks that are particularly important for muscles and the heart. Whey protein is renowned for being a complete protein, containing adequate amounts of all nine essential amino acids. Most vegan protein sources aren’t complete by themselves, but that shouldn’t hold you back from trying them when you want to pack on some gains.

Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a board-certified sports dietitian in Newtown, Pennsylvania who follows a plant-based diet, suggests combining pea protein with other plant-based proteins for a more complete amino acid profile.

To build muscle on a vegan diet, Jones recommends starting with 1.8 grams of protein per kg of your weight in protein per day and adding 10% to that number in grams. Why add 10%?

“That’s because the bioavailability of many plant protein sources is lower than animal sources,” says Jones. This means you may digest and absorb slightly less amino acids in a plant food versus animal protein.

Buying Guide For Best Plant

Whether your goal is to build muscle, quell your appetite, or simply make sure youre getting enough protein each day, a plant-based protein powder can help.

If you’re new to the world of protein powders or have always just opted for whichever kind you can find at your local store, choosing a plant-based protein powder can seem daunting. First, you have to decide which type of plant-based protein is right for you. Does it have the nutritional supplementation you need? Is it palatable? Are there any additives in the powder that you wish to embrace or avoid?

At BestReviews, we focused our research on plant-based protein powders and put together this in-depth guide to help you find the perfect plant-based protein powder for your needs.

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The Best Protein Powders

  • Fiber: 1g
  • Fat: 1.5g

With a variety of available flavors and a decades-long track record of quality, Gold Standard Whey from Optimum Nutrition is your ally in the fight against mediocre protein. Reviewers love the authenticity of the flavorsâthey don’t all just taste the same.

Gold Standard won’s protein and supplement of the year 13 times, and has serious credibility among athletes worldwide. It can be used for muscle building, performance, and recovery, as well as for staying lean.* Other contenders have since entered the market, but Gold Standard Whey remains a solid nutritional choice with a lot of options.

One more awesome thing about Optimum Nutrition is it mixes so easily you can just stir it with a spoon. You don’t even need a shaker bottle . So you have zero excuse to skip your protein, even if all your shaker bottles are in the dishwasher.

  • Fiber: 1g
  • Fat: 2g

Dymatize ISO100 is an ultra-pure whey protein isolate that has been both filtered and blended with whey hydrolysate, creating a super-fast digesting and absorbing protein with peerless macros. It has had nearly all sugars, carbs, fats, and lactose removed, leaving almost nothing but pure muscle-building protein.*

Customers also rave about the great taste of this protein supplement. When you’re watching your calories, eating super clean, and avoiding junk food, it feels like a treatâbut one that takes you closer to your goals.

  • Fiber: 6g
  • Fat: 2g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Fat: 2g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Fat: 0g

Tofu Tempeh Or Seitan

Plant Based Protein Is BAD For Building Muscle (If…) | Plant VS Animal Protein

These foods often replace meat or fish in a plant-based diet when building muscle. But even if youre not vegetarian or vegan, its worth having one of these products in your fridge. They are a high-quality source of protein and at the same time rich in minerals. Most often theyre sold in vacuum packaging or canned, so they can be enjoyed for a long time.

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How Much Protein Do I Need

Protein needs will vary based upon your height, weight, fitness goals, activity level, and age. The current recommended daily allowance is around .73-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. Still, experts advise that this recommendation be viewed as a minimum to meet your bodys basic needs and avoid getting sick.

Athletes should aim for around double that amount of 2.2-3.4 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. You can learn more about how vegans get protein here.

Pea Protein Powder Vs Whey Protein

Pea protein and whey protein both encompass all nine amino acids. Whey is considered a complete protein whereas pea protein has all nine amino acids but has low levels of methionine. Methionine is an important amino acid helping with metabolism and angiogenesis .

Barring the fact pea protein is low in methionine, it has higher levels of arginine, histidine and phenylalanine compared with whey protein. Pea protein has more iron and fiber than whey protein. Whey protein has more calcium, cholesterol and potassium.

Most pea protein and whey protein powders generally have more than 20 grams of protein per serving. However, whey protein usually has more protein per serving vs pea protein.

Pea protein is good protein choice but in terms of building muscle whey protein is a better choice because it is more easily digested and has a superior amino acid profile.

What is Soy Protein?

Soy protein is made by grinding up soybeans into meal. This substance is then broken down by getting soaked in alcohol or acid in a process called acid-washing. This process removes the sugar and dietary fiber. After this, it is dehydrated which results in a powdery soy protein isolate. Soy protein has all nine essential amino acids and is incredibly low in carbohydrates and fat. Soy protein is a good choice for people that have lactose intolerance or are vegans.

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High Protein Plant Foods

There are some plants that are much more impressive in amino acids than others , and should be added to your diet every day. The rest will just come to you naturally in your food especially so when you are eating a whole food, low GI diet.

There are two lists here: One for the best whole food proteins, and one for the best plant based protein powders. If you are in a training program and eating a plant based diet, then you will more than likely need to incorporate some of these protein powders to be doubly sure youre getting all that your body requires under strenuous circumstances.

Not everything on this list is necessarily the highest protein plant products per 100 grams, but they will work out to be the highest considering they are going to be the main components that add bulk to your meals. Plus, you will be eating a lot more of them by weight.

For instance, almonds and pistachio nuts are higher in protein than chickpeas per 100 grams, but you wouldnt really eat that amount of nuts in one sitting because of too much fat and calories. However, you could easily eat 100 grams or more of chickpeas as the main component to a meal, and thus get in MORE protein than the nuts if that makes sense.

What Is Protein And Why Is It Important


Protein is a compound comprised of chains of smaller molecules known as amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of the body.

When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into its constituent parts , which are then absorbed and used to create new protein molecules.

These newly formed proteins serve as raw materials for making muscles, ligaments, tendons, hair, organs, and skin, as well various hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals essential to life.

Your body needs twenty-one amino acids to do all of this, and out of them, it must get nine from the food you eat.

These nine are known as essential amino acids , because they must be obtained from the diet. They are:

  • Phenylalanine
  • Lysine
  • Histidine

The main reason you must eat protein is to provide your body with enough of these essential amino acids to do everything it needs to do.

If you were to somehow strip your diet of all essential amino acids, youd eventually die.

This is why people that dont eat enough protein lose muscle faster as they agetheir bodies lack the nutrients needed to preserve lean mass.

This is also why regular weightlifting and exercise increases the bodys demand for protein. It damages tissues that must be repaired, and that requires a surplus of amino acids.

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Is Whey Protein Safe

Whey protein is safe to take for most people. However, some people that are allergic to milk or have a lactose intolerance should avoid taking whey protein. In some cases, the consumption of whey protein in high amounts can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Acne

The benefits of whey protein far exceed most of these potential side effects but as always consult with your doctor before beginning any new diet or supplementation.

Protein Quality Of Plant

Dietary protein quality is assessed based on the essential amino acid composition of a protein as it relates to human needs and the ability of the protein to be digested, absorbed, and retained by the body . The nutritional value of dietary proteins is, therefore, related to the bioavailability of its constitutive amino acids and depends on the efficiency of their metabolic utilization to meet the amino acid requirements necessary for growth and body protein turnover . In 1989, the joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization Expert Consultation on Protein Quality Evaluation proposed measurable parameters based on the determination of nitrogen balance to evaluate the quality of dietary protein, i.e., protein digestibility, net protein utilization, biological value, chemical score, and digestibility corrected amino acid score .

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Do Vegans Need Protein Powder

The short answer is, no. Adding protein powder to your vegan diet is not essential, in the same way that is not essential in for people on an omnivore diet. If your plant-based diet is properly planned, you certainly can meet your daily protein requirements with whole-foods only. However, a vegan protein powder can be a part of your diet. It is an easy, efficient, and convenient way to increase your protein intake, especially if you are an athlete or bodybuilder with higher protein needs than the average person.

Eat Protein Throughout The Day Vs All At Once

30 of the Best Sources of Plant Protein for Building Muscle

While inclusion of high amounts of protein post-workout and at dinner is typical, in order to build muscle, it may be best to spread protein intake throughout the day. To be most accurate, the current recommendation is to consume .25-.3 grams per kg of your body weight 4-5 times per day.

Increase protein at breakfast by whipping up a tofu scramble and pairing with whole grain toast and fruit. For a quick option on a weekday morning, make your oats using soy milk rather than almond milk or water. Then topping with peanut butter and hemp seeds. Boost intake at snacks with nuts, like peanuts and pistachios, seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower, and roasted beans.

Looking for plant-protein packed recipes? Check out this post complete with FIFTY delicious plant protein recipes to help you recover optimally from workouts and even aid in muscle growth!

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Can You Build Muscle With Plant

It doesnt matter if an athlete has plans to be 100 percent vegan or if they just want to avoid animal-based protein sources like whey protein. In either case, its common for them to have concerns about whether or not its possible to build muscle and gain strength when eating plant-based protein sources.

Can you build muscle with plant-based protein? Is it possible to get swole without dairy-based protein? In short, absolutely. Everything you need to know about muscle building with plant-based protein is explained below.

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